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Sheena could sit at any dinner table and rule, her polish and sophistication and air of mystery guaranteeing she'd get attention.
Devoid of make-up, with her hair in a ponytail, Elle Drake could slide into the shadows and disappear. They made a nearly unbeatable combination and Sheena had done exactly what Elle needed her to do— she'd lured Stavros and kept him interested long enough for Elle to poke around in his glamorous life and see what she could turn up—which so far was—… nothing.
Elle couldn't read Stavros's thoughts and emotions the way she did others when they touched her, and that amazed her. Elle rarely ever intruded, even when she was using her undercover persona, Sheena MacKenzie, but she would have made an exception in Stavros's case. She had been investigating him for months and had found nothing to either clear him—or to point toward his guilt.
She glanced over her shoulder at Stavros. But I think everything you do is like this and you know it. He served the best food, had the best music, and surrounded himself with intelligent people, fun people.
In all the months she'd been watching him, she had yet to discover even a hint of criminal activity. Stavros had been kind and generous, giving millions to charities, supporting art and working out deals with his employees in a hands-on discussion that avoided laying off an entire group of workers.
She had come to respect the man in spite of earlier suspicions and she was ready to go back to Dane Phelps, her boss, and write a very strongly worded report that the rumors concerning Stavros were wrong—except that his aura indicated danger and a strong penchant for violence. Of course some of the men her sisters had chosen as their mates had that same vivid color swirling around them. Her heart jumped. According to rumor, Stavros never took any woman to his island. He had homes all over the world, but the island was his private retreat.
Most under-cover operatives would have relished the opportunity to enter Stravos's private sanctum, but her boss had been adamant that she not go, even if the opportunity presented itself. There was no way to communicate from that island. She tried not to wince. She was such a fraud. This was the man she should fall in love with, not the worm—he—who—could-never-be-named—who had broken her heart. Here was Stavros, handsome, intelligent, wealthy, a man who solved problems and seemed to care for many of the same causes she did.
Why couldn't he be the man she fell madly in love with? His eyes darkened, became stormy. Stavros liked his way and was definitely used to getting it. You want things from me I can't give you. I told you from the beginning we could be friends—not lovers. She should have been settled in her family home with the man destiny had provided for her, but he had rejected her. Her stomach churned at the thought.
She'd put an ocean between them and still he tried to reach her, his voice a faint buzz in her head, trying to persuade her to return—to what? A man who didn't want children or a legacy of magic. He refused to understand that was who she was—what she was. In rejecting her legacy, he rejected her. And she needed a man who would help her. Who would understand how difficult it was for her to face her future. She needed someone to lean on, not someone she had to coax or take care of. Elle shook her head.
You know what would happen if I did and we can't go there. Elle tipped her head back and looked up at him. What woman wouldn't be tempted by you? It would be so easy. He was so sweet to her, always attentive, wanting to give her the world. She reached up and touched his face regretfully. She was ashamed she'd suspected him of the heinous things she had—human trafficking among the worst. Yes, he'd started out smuggling guns in his freighters, years earlier when he had nothing. But he seemed to have more than made up for all of his mistakes and as far as she could ascertain, he was truly legitimate.
At least she could clear his name with Interpol and the other agencies around the world where his name kept cropping up. That would make her feel better about spending these last months working to befriend him and earn his trust. Elle spread her arms wide, taking in the yacht and the shimmering sea.
This is your world and I can step into it occasionally, but I could never live in it comfortably. I've looked at your track record, Stavros, and you don't believe in permanency, and no, I'm not holding out for marriage with you.
I just know myself. I get attached to people and breaking up is terribly painful. He made her feel like a beautiful, desirable woman, when no one else had—but in the end, she wasn't glamorous, sophisticated Sheena, she was really Elle Drake and she carried her baggage with her everywhere she went. Swift impatience crossed his handsome face and he blinked, his dark eyes growing a little frosty.
I need to speak with a few of them. Stay here and wait for me. Elle nodded. Where was the harm in that? After tonight, Sheena MacKenzie was going to disappear and Stavros would never see her again. Maybe he already knew she was saying goodbye. She couldn't blame him for being upset. She'd tried to stay within boundaries, not lead him on, yet gain his trust enough to get into his inner circles. She'd attended his charities and his parties, and never once had she heard the whisper of illegal activity.
If he was the criminal her boss suspected, he was amazingly adept at hiding it and she no longer believed it was possible. So why couldn't she fall in love with him? What was wrong with her? Certainly the worm—he-who-could-not-be-named—ever—again was not worth holding out hope for. Was she stupid enough to do that? Hope that he would come after her? That would never happen. He didn't want her.
He didn't want her legacy—or her name—or her house—and he certainly didn't want the seven daughters that would come with along with her. She watched Stavros as he talked to his guests, smiling and seemingly happy.
As if sensing her looking at him, he turned his head and sent her a warm smile. Her heart did a funny little flip, not the way it did when the worm smiled at her, but because she knew Stavros was half in love with her and it was so unfair. The smile she sent Stavros back was sadder than she knew. Could she live like this? This glamorous, whirlwind life?
She was born with a legacy few others—if anyone—ever had or would know. As the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, Elle's psychic gifts ran deep in her genes and would be passed on to her seven daughters.
And her seventh daughter would carry that same bittersweet legacy. Would Elle fulfill her destiny? Or would the Drake's legacy of magic die quietly with her? Elle used to envision a life of laughter and happiness with her soulmate. That was before she'd met him. He was a morose, silent, brooding, very dominant male. She knew he could bring stillness and peace to her, or with one smoldering look, turn her veins to liquid fire.
But he refused to accept who she was—refused to love her as she was. And if he didn't, she feared no other man ever would—or could. Not the real Elle Drake, at least.
Hidden Currents (Drake Sisters Series #7)
Hidden Currents : Number 7 in series